Last month Spain passed a law granting citizenship to all Jews of Sephardic descent whose ancestors were expelled during the Spanish Inquisition more than 500 years ago. The Inquisition began in 1492, where Spain expelled around 200,000 Jews under the orders of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Those Jews were known as Sephardic Jews, aka Sephardim, derived from the Hebrew word Sepharad, which means Spain.
“This law is a real historic reparation of, I dare say, the biggest mistake in Spanish history,” said Spaniard minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardo to the New York Times on his last visit in New York City. He also added that he has been fighting to pass this law since 2012.
Gallardo says Spain expects more than 150,000 individuals to apply for the Spanish citizenship since the Sephardic community had reached up to two million members in the United States, Israel, and France. Significant minorities of Sephardic Jews also live in the Latin-American countries of Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Panama, Chile, Nicaragua and Peru.So, what are the requirements to regain citizenship in the Spanish motherland?
Applicants must prove their heritage through surnames, or other proof of ancestry like a certificate from a recognized Sephardic Jewish federation or rabbinical authority. Those who speak Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), those who are not religiously observant, as well as Marranos (those who hid their Jewish identity and accepted Christianity to survive) will also be granted Spanish Citizenship. “We will look at any evidence, we want to ease the process,” said Gallardo.
But, why is Spain doing this? Does the Spanish crisis have some type of special interest in the new immigrants?
“We expect over 150,000 Jews to apply, but that doesn’t mean they will come and live here,” said Gallardo.
So there you have it, citizenship applications for Jews of Sephardic descent will be ready and open starting Oct.